Health Experts Seek To Prevent Spread of HIV in Angola After Civil War
Health officials are taking advantage of the "window of opportunity" to control the spread of HIV in Angola since the civil war ended in 2002, Reuters reports. Official 2004 statistics put HIV prevalence at 2.8%, lower than other countries in the region, according to Reuters. Health experts believe HIV prevalence has remained low because of the civil war, which lasted almost 30 years and devastated most of Angola's infrastructure. According to Deputy Health Minister Jose Van Dunem, as life improves in Angola and people become more mobile, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections will spread more easily. Moreover, 70% of the population is under age 24, the age group most vulnerable to contracting HIV, Reuters reports. Several hospitals in Angola provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost, and the government plans to introduce no-cost antiretroviral treatment nationwide by the end of this year. The government's HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention program also includes distributing no-cost condoms, but the condoms do not always reach those who need them, according to Reuters. To help bridge the gap, Pierre-Francois Pirlot, the head of the U.N. Development Program in Angola, each day personally distributes up to 1,000 condoms provided by the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the U.N. Population Fund and USAID to fishermen, street vendors, construction workers, commercial sex workers, petrol attendants, street cleaners and police officers (Eisenstein, Reuters, 10/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.